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Tortola, British Virgin Islands

For whatever reasons, my trips always seem to take me to cold, relatively inhospitable places. After our Black River camping trip (high: 31F, low 13F) Leslie proclaimed that her next trip will be somewhere warm. Well, I think Tortola qualifies.

Our planned activities include, but are not limited to:

We'll post more pictures while we're there!

Saturday, March 15th - Travel Day

We met Herb at the airport, which was an absolute zoo. When we finally got our bags, we walked to the hotel to meet Joey and catch a cab to the Blyden Ferry Terminal. While waiting to board the ferry, enjoyed our first tropical rum drink.

We were a bit slow boarding the ferry, so we got stuck in the middle. The views were nice, but not spectacular.

Once we arrived, we saw Jazzy waiting for us. We made it through customs and piled into the Webel's Grand Vitara. It was tight, but we were happy to have a ride to their house.

I have never seen roads as steep as they are on Tortola. We took the Elevator road up and over to the North side of the Island.

There are no wells on Tortola, so all fresh water comes either from collecting rain in a cistern desalinization. The Webel's cistern is under their living room floor.

Dinner the first night was Wahoo two ways. First, sashimi, then fish tacos. Both were outstanding. Susie is one hell of a cook.

Sunday rained almost all day, so we went to the grocery store, picked up the rental car, then spent the evening catching up, telling stories and eating. The Wahoo on Sunday night was fried. Not as good as sashimi or tacos, but pretty good nonetheless.

Jazz, Herb and I were up until the wee hours of the morning preparing the rods, reels and lures for our big day of big game sport fishing. Jazzy has become quite the fishing expert, and taught Herb and I much about rigging, reels, etc. I disassembled one of Jazzy's reels well beyond my capability, but with a little luck, I was able to get it back together with no extra parts.

The next morning threatened a little rain, but apparently this is typical on the island. This was the view from the Webel's deck.

By the time we made it to the marina at Nanny Cay (pronounced Nanny Key), it was turning out to be a beautiful morning.

The marina was packed full of enormous cruising catamarans available for charter. Not the most elegant looking craft, but good for inexperienced cruisers, I guess.

I was first in the rotation and missed my first bite. My second bite, however, I was much more aggressive setting the hook.

Although it is exciting to catch a Barracuda, they sometimes are infected with ciguatoxin, and since none of us wanted ciguatera, we chose to release the beast.

Bret was next in the rotation, and he hooked his first bite.

When the fish was close enough to gaff, Jazzy finished it off.

Here are Bret and Matt with the only Wahoo of the day.

At the end of the day of fishing, we relaxed with a few beers on Beer Money.

On Tuesday, we decided to try snorkeling. I was quite excited, having never been snorkeling, much less in the tropics.

The first fish I saw was a big Tarpin. Pretty impressive to see it patroling the reef.

The water was little churned up, and the skies a little cloudy so the snorkeling wasn't great. I was still enthralled, however.

Tuesday night we went to "Taco Tuesday" at the Royal British Virgin Islands Yacht Club. You (the reader) could possibly make the following mental associations:

Taco Tuesday: Where you go to eat on Tuesdays while in college because it is cheaper than Ramen.

Royal BVI Yacht Club: Men in blue blazers and women who wear Easter bonnets all year long.

In which case, you would be half right. The Taco Tuesday is correct, the Royal BVI Yacht Club is nothing like it sounds. Imagine shorts, T-shirts, picnic tables and pretty good soft-shelled tacos. It was a good time, even without the Easter bonnets.

Speaking of Easter bonnets, nice one Jazz.

Navigating Tortola in the dark afterwards was a bit tricky.

For those of you who like weather maps, you may have noticed the big low pressure system over the North Atlantic in mid-March. Although it didn't send any rain our way, it certainly sent some swell. The NOAA forecasts called for 15-foot swell hitting the Virgin Islands on Wednesday and Thursday. Time for Bret and I to get in WAAAY over our heads (literally).

We stared at the breaking waves for several minutes and decided that it was probably too dangerous. Too dangerous for lesser men, that is. We rented the longest boards we could and went in head first.

Bret and I combined for a total of 1.6 seconds of sustained standing time on a surfboard. But we had hella fun doing it.

After getting pummeled for about three hours, we called it a day and went to Myett's for happy hour.

Then it was back to Casa de Webel for Caribbean BBQ ribs. Mmmmmm. Pork.

Thursday was set to be a beautiful day, so we took Beer Money out for a day of island hopping and snorkeling.

It turns out Ellen Degeneres' character in Finding Nemo was based on a true fish.

We took a mid-day break at the legendary Willy T's in The Bight of Norman Island.

When it was time to leave, I figured a dramatic exit was appropriate.

In the afternoon, we snorkeled a spot called the caves, west of Peter Island. Towards the end of the day, we dumped all of our remaining chum (Cheerios) overboard. A school of yellow tailed jacks appeard for the free meal, followed closely by a five-foot barracuda also looking for a meal. I took the opportunity to get some Cousteau caliber footage.

We then all climbed back aboard and headed back to Nanny Cay.

After a quick rinse, we changed clothes and headed to the Bananakeet for a sundowner.

Friday was a sad day, as Herb and Joey had to head back to the States. We took the opportunity to conquer Tortola by hiking from Casa de Webel, down to the beach at Cane Garden Bay, back up to the summit of Sage Mountain (highest point in the BVI) then back down to the house. The three hours and 8.5 miles that ensued are summed up in the following images.